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Thursday, September 14, 2006

i know you are but what am i?

When I first heard about the show 'Wife Swap', I thought, "That sounds dirrrrrty. I'm so sure." But I never watched it.

Which, by the way, how often does that happen? People never watch a show because of its title...which is fine, but I have a problem with people making commentary on shows they've never watched. A serious problem.

Any way.

I caught clips of the show on The Soup (not a show about soup, per se), and the clips were of that one woman who screamed and cast out devils and then, at the end, ripped up the paycheck from the show (disclaimer following stating that after further consideration, the woman decided to accept the payment). It was intriguing.

And then a few weeks ago, I don't know what possessed me, but I watched 'Wife Swap', and guess what.

I think it's brilliant.

The premise is that two families who operate in different ways swap wives/moms for two weeks. The first week, the guest mom is to live according to the host family's schedule, and for the second week, the mom gets to change any rules she chooses, in hopes of enlightening, changing, even fixing the family.

I saw one episode that was hilarious.

First family: from Florida, three kids; mom works as a substitute teacher and also at her uncle's restaurant; upon arriving home, she does accounting/bookkeeping for said restaurant; husband works the night shift as a corrections officer; kids are very independent and family admittedly doesn't spend much time together. The point was repeatedly made that there are four televisions in the house.

This family switched with a family from Ohio. Two children; mom stays at home and homeschools her children; husband is a computer programmer who is out-of-town for work 3 weeks out of any given month, but when he is home, he is treated like a king and waited on hand-and-foot because of their lifestyle of choice: they play midieval kingdom or somesuch. They have alternate names/identities, play with sWords, eat gruel and the like. Costumes. Fairies. Drum circles*. Lutes. The kind that are sprinkled around North Park in the evenings.

*not that there's anything wrong with drum circles. my aunt happened to meet her husband at a drum circle...

Any way.

It was just so, so funny to see the modern-er kids have to dress as jesters, whilst the midieval boy was screaming at his new mom -- I swear, that kid had so much angst, if he weren't wearing tights, he'd TOTALLY be Timpview Goth.

But I really do like this show, laughing at people aside. At the beginning, I tend to identify with one family more than the other: "Oh, they're living the right way, those other people are just crazy." But then...something happens throughout as I'm watching and I realize that both are right, and both are crazy. It's good to recognize that a balance is necessary and healthy.

For instance, in that one episode, the Ohio lady took over for the Florida lady, which meant being a substitute teacher for a substitute teacher, for a class filled with 10-year-olds. Um, pardon me, but do you think that she got an accurate view of what public school is like? With the way that the 10-year-olds behaved for the sub for their sub? Ohio felt further justified in homeschooling due to that experience: "And THAT is why my kids are homeschooled!" (*Disclaimer: I am not against homeschooling. Let's not open that can, please. I was, however, bothered with one of this woman's reasons for homeschooling: "I just don't want them to be around other can be so mean..." She didn't want to risk bullying, etc..)

Meanwhile, Florida felt that Ohio's kids were so socially handicapped that she tried an experiment: she sent the kids to school where the daughter, 13 years old, made a friend; Florida insisted that 13 call said friend and invite her to dinner. Not only had this family never had a guest for dinner, poor 13 didn't know how to use a phone: "Um, Judy? Julie? I'm calling for Julie...".

Upon returning home, Ohio learned from her kids that other people aren't to be avoided, and that being a socially "normal" teenager is okay. Florida learned from her kids that they enjoy spending family time together. Plans for compromises were made and the show was over, this time without punches being thrown.

Any way.

My mind isn't working well these days (more on that to come), and I recognize that this post might not make any sense, but I just wanted to put this out there. I think the show is pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Same initial reaction...same overall thoughts. Weird crazy show that shows that you just can't judge another family until you swap places with their mom.

And yes, I agree about your mind. Cuz I told you THREE TIMES E was being picked up today. :)

Carina said...

It is a fun show to watch. It's not something I record or intend to watch, but if it happens to be on, sure. I like that you can see how other families work. The producers are great about picking opposites to swap. I think it eventually makes each family better off--finding a middle ground from their extreme points of view. You should see when they send the evangelical to the wiccan house.

(p.s. you'd be socially handicapped too if you made your own chainmail.)

~j. said...

Dangit, be fair, I totally thought you meant Thursdays when ballroom starts. This doesn't make me feel like any less of a fool. Oh well. Better to pass the brains on to the boy, I suppose. Pay no heed to the moron behind the steering wheel.

azucar - yeah, I don't think I'll be setting the DVR, but it's fun to catch. And, once, li'l ~j. saw one part of one episode, and for a day and a half, all I heard was, "Mom, you are the best mommy because you aren't like that lady on tv." I love at the end: "To apply for 'Wife Swap'..." Yeah, RIGHT.

Anonymous said...

My initial thought of the show was the same and then I just caught a glimpse and then watched an entire episode. They can be VERY funny, but sometimes I think they are tragic. I can't imagine who I would even want to trade with or how our family would have come across. Hope you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

I truly was only joking. Half the time I can't remember who is going where with who...or is it whom?

I keep threatening my family that I am going to wife swap with the mom across the street. (you know who I mean). That gets them back in shape real quick.

Lisa said...

My next door neighbors, the First Nationers, applied for Wife Swap. Apparently they didn't make the final cut, although they did make it through the preliminaries. I had my "trip over with a plate of brownies-OH, you're filming something?" all planned. I guess that's on hold for now.

C. Jane Kendrick said...

~J should we try it? You want to swap?

~j. said...

sue - I should threaten to send my kids over there (across your street), but then I'd get: "Sweet! At least they have a dog!"

lvc: Oh, that would have been precious. Your blog about them remains one of my favorites ever.

cj - Why not? With or without a camera crew? I thought our next project involved filming us holding hands in wal*mart.

Heidi on Vashon said...

My 10-yr-old watches this at his dad's, my X. I ran screaming from that house after one too many reality shows and being forced in front of the TV as a sub for intimacy. I would have volunteered for that show, at that point.

TV-less. Singledom-More!

Utah, eh? I was an SLC punk in the 80s (be very afraid! Indian Center shows, Crossroads loitering, stealing beers at Snowbird's Oktoberfest as a teen...I was from San Diego...)

Fun blog, ms J.

My Ku'ulei said...

Dude seriously, let's never do the wife/life swap...what a mess! I can't watch that show. I watched Nanny 911 and nearly wanted to go into the TV and slap the kids and parents myself - that is not very charitable and I know for TV they make sure it is juicy and as annoying as possible so the viewer stays engaged in the show, but really, how many tantrums can a person take!

Now I feel like I can criticize the Wife Swap without ever letting myself waste an hour of my day...unless the next time Jen comes up and we have nothing to do but watch the good old Tivo, then it is okay and I think we should sit back and enjoy together.

Love you!

~j. said...

ms heidi - welcome! I always love to have new people come to my blog. I can only wish to have been an SLC punk in the '80s, rather than wishing I could be as cool as my babysitters in NY. TV as a sub for intimacy?! Thank goodness he's your X!! Please visit again.

ku'u - I've never seen the Nanny 911. I should so that I can know what it's about, but I get the impression it would just raise my blood pressure. Not good right now. I'm sure the next time Jen comes we can find ALL SORTS of gems to waste our time with. tee hee.

Cardine said...

I actually thought the same thing when I heard the title of the show. I've still never seen it, but I have heard a lot about it, and I think it does seem like it would be a good learning experience for people.

It reminds me of foreign exchange programs.

Kayt said...

Hi, I got here from Yen's blog .. I have stalked you before (I mean that in the friendliest sense) but I don't think I've ever posted :) - anyway I just HAD to chime in with my two cents in support of how wonderful Wife Swap is!

I love that EVERYONE goes into it thinking they're going to TEACH another family the "right" way to do things, and yet everyone always ends up LEARNING they weren't as perfect as they thought they were. That - and the fact that there are some seriously funny/crazy arguments that go on between some seriously funny/crazy people - make it one of my favorites. I also sometimes watch Trading Spouses (the FOX version of the same idea) for the same reasons :)

La Yen said...

We have been watching the marathon today, and W said "You should swap with ~J, because at the end of the two weeks everything would be exactly the same at both of our houses." I told him that I had thought the same thing.

b. said...

I love it when I start watching, standing in complete judgement of both situations. By the end of the show I have a lot less to say about them.....and then again, sometimes a lot MORE!
I love it best when my husband watches it with me and he looks over at me with renewed love and gratitude and I say, "Dats right babyyy, you got it goooood!"